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SELDA on proposals for Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the distribution of the victims’ compensation from the settlement agreement

Press Release
March 26, 2011

QUEZON CITY  –  “Our struggle for justice is far from over. At this time that martial law victims are receiving a small amount of indemnification, a dangerous proposal to bury the remains of the fascist dictator Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is being pursued hurriedly and in earnest by Marcos allies in Congress. We find this grossly unacceptable and a travesty of history.”

Thus said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and daughter of one of the original named plaintiffs in the historic class suit against Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, in a press conference today with other victims of the Marcos dictatorship. SELDA initiated and led the 9, 539 Martial Law victims in filing the case against Marcos in the US Federal Court system on April 7, 1986,  barely two months after the dictator’s ouster by the so-called People Power I or EDSA I.

Enriquez lambasted House Resolution 1135, recently filed and signed by legislators from the House of Representatives appealing to President Noynoy Aquino for former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“It makes a mockery of the horrors that the Filipino people endured during the Martial Law era: plunder, numerous human rights violations including summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and detention, hamletting and forced evacuation, among others. While we welcomed the distribution of funds from the $10M settlement agreement with the Marcos crony Jose Campos, such victory won by the victims should not be seen as a sign that the Marcoses can just get away with the obliteration of the gross human rights violations committed by the Marcos dictatorship against the Filipino people," said Enriquez.

SELDA also monitored the distribution of the funds for the Marcos victims which started on February 28, 2011.  Enriquez and her fellow victims noted the following reports in summary:

1) The reduction of the number of claimants from 9,539 to 7,526 victims is arbitrary.

In the National Capital Region, there were some 150 victims and their relatives who were among the 9,539 victims who were not given their claims and were made to accomplish forms to indicate that their claims are for further investigation. Among the victims who were among the original list of victims were Fidel and Rosario Agcaoili, Prof. Joma Sison, Satur Ocampo, Judy Taguiwalo, Josephine Dongail, Bonifacio Ilagan, Carol Araullo, Sonia Brizuela Planas, Rhodora Julian Clemente, Maxima Luneta, Corazon Casambre, Manuel Navarro, Ramon Veluz, Melvin Cayabyab, Jose Barsoles, Carlos Ortega, victims of the Tatalon massacre during the Martial Law period, and many others were not given the compensation due them.

The victims who struggled against the construction of the Chico River Dam and operations of the Cellophil Resource Corporation in the Cordilleras were not in the reduced list even though they are among the 9,539.

Many victims from Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and Southern Mindanao were also arbitrarily delisted. Many of them belong to the urban and rural poor and are in the twilight of their lives. They spent money to go to the regional centers of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) but their names were not in the so-called masterlist.

2) The system of distribution is not efficient and inconsiderate of the situation of the victims.

Some victims who were told that their names are not on the masterlist were soon told that their names are included in other regions’ masterlist.

Some victims did not receive notices from the court or Atty. Swift but when they checked their names in the masterlist, they were able to find their names and receive their claims.

Some victims received notices from the court and Atty. Swift but when they checked the masterlist, their names were not included in the said list.

“With the arbitrary delisting of victims, they find themselves victims all over again. Such action is tantamount to saying that they are not victims of human rights violations and therefore not entitled to justice and indemnification. It denies victims of our legitimacy of status as victims and their claim to justice,” Enriquez commented.

SELDA calls on Judge Manuel Real and Atty. Robert Swift to accord the compensation due the victims and demands the reinstatement of the 2,013 delisted victims.